Food and Agribusiness

Fair Trade: A relentless idealism or a way of creating sustainable agri value chain?

Fair trade, a popular concept among consumers in western Europe and the US, ensures everyone involved in the making of a product is fairly paid; there is no child labour or forced labour; there is gender equality; and there are no damages to the environment. The movement was born out of concerns over western consumers exploiting farmers, artisans and labourers in countries in South America, Africa and Asia. Standards for fair trade are laid down by not-for-profit organisations like Fairtrade International, World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO) and Fair Trade USA. Fair trade is linked to the principle of triple bottom line, which looks not just at financial gains, but also social and ecological benefits. Coffee is by far the biggest fair trade product, with around half of Fairtrade farmers and workers growing it. Fairtrade is focused on smallholder farmers (<5 Ha) since 80% of the world’s coffee is grown by them. Coffee chains like Starbucks and Peet’s Coffee sell fair trade coffee.